One swing. That’s all that it took to set social media ablaze with media and fans alike all gushing over Pittsburgh Pirates‘ top prospect Gregory Polanco and subsequently speculating when the 22-year-old might be ready for full-time major league action. Polanco sent his first home run of the season over the right field wall in the top of the first inning of Grapefruit League action against the New York Yankees. Polanco certainly thinks he’s ready based upon some of the interviews he’s given of late, and his teammates don’t disagree, with Andrew McCutchen even endorsing Polanco as being ready. Whenever that time comes, it won’t be on Opening Day, that’s for sure. Polanco is going to need some time at AAA Indianapolis to further mature and work on his discipline and game plan at the plate before he is ready for major league pitching.
Everyone needs to keep in mind that Polanco is still a very young man with limited professional experience. This will be his first full season above the AA level, having only played in two games for AAA Indianapolis at the tail end of last season. Admittedly his expeditious advancement through the Pirates’ system is certainly encouraging, elevating from High A to AAA within the span of the 2013 season. Even more impressive, perhaps, is Polanco’s most recent performance in the Dominican Winter League where he was honored as the overall Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year. After receiving these honors, Polanco has emerged to be the leading candidate as the Pirates’ long-term answer to fill their right field vacancy.
Most will agree that if Polanco continues to experience success at the AAA level to start the 2013 season, he will be in a Pirates uniform potentially by the All-Star Break — which would be a welcomed addition by all, especially if Jose Tabata, Travis Snider, Andrew Lambo and Chris Dickerson all fail to establish themselves as a viable candidate to be the team’s everyday right fielder in the interim. With the addition of Polanco, the Pirates will essentially have all outfield positions filled by natural center fielders.
Vinny Gala is a Pittsburgh Pirates writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @VinnyGala.